Washington Examiner

Minnesota no longer enforces law excluding religious colleges from free enrollment program.

Minnesota Agrees to Stop Enforcing Discriminatory Law Against Religious Universities

Minnesota has taken a significant step by agreeing to halt the enforcement of a law that prohibits religious universities from participating in a state program that allows high school students to earn free college credits. This decision comes after Christian parents and two Christian universities filed a lawsuit against Governor Tim Walz and Education Commissioner Willie Jett, claiming that the law is discriminatory. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing these groups and challenged the law in May.

“It’s not every day that a state asks a federal court to tie its hands to prevent it from enforcing its own anti-religious law—but Minnesota has done just that,” said Becket senior counsel Diana Thomson in a press release. “As this effort to walk back demonstrates, the state didn’t do its homework before it passed this unconstitutional law. The next step is for the court to strike down this ban for good.”

The Minnesota law altered the eligibility criteria for the Post Secondary Enrollment Options program, which previously allowed faith-based institutions to participate since its inception in 1985. However, on May 24, the state began excluding faith-based institutions from the program, leading parents Mark and Melinda Loe, Dawn Erickson, and schools Crown College and University of Northwestern – St. Paul to file a lawsuit.

“We are glad that Minnesota has agreed not to punish our children and many students like them for wanting to learn at schools that reflect their values,” expressed the Loes, who have PSEO funds for their children. “They should be able to pursue the same great opportunities as all other students in the state without politicians in St. Paul getting in the way. We hope the court will eventually strike this law down for good and protect all religious students and the schools they want to attend.”

The Supreme Court has previously invalidated similar restrictions, as seen in the case of Carson v. Makin, where the court ruled that Maine could not discriminate against religious schools in its tuition assistance program.

As a response to the Carson decision, Maine amended its law to state that religious schools cannot discriminate against other religions in their profession of faith, which led to a new legal challenge.

Governor Walz, Commissioner Jett, and Attorney General Keith Ellison have not provided a comment on the matter.

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